Will Windows save us in a zombie apocalypse?

Based on my experience playing the custom Back to School map for Left 4 Dead 2 last night, my answer would be a resounding no.

A friend of mine played this campaign recently. It was, in a word, fantastic. The attention to detail is phenomenal, and even though its six chapters perfectly balance difficulty with engagement, this one particular scene in the 4th chapter takes the cake.

It starts in a police station. Once you’ve fought your way out, you and your cohorts enter a theater. Soon enough, you find signs pointing you to the safe room in this one particular projector room.

Oh sweet, it's right behind the door thar!

Oh sweet, it’s right behind the door thar!

Of course, once you step down towards the door, you receive an unfortunate alert.

There are no free safe rooms in the zombie apocalypse.

There are no free safe rooms in the zombie apocalypse.

With the safe room door locked behind a malfunctioning security system, I stepped into the server room to investigate. What I saw sent chills down my spine.

The only thing worse than a zombie apocalypse is a frozen Windows machine during the zombie apocalypse.

The only thing worse than a zombie apocalypse is a frozen Windows machine during the zombie apocalypse.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen:  the theater’s security system was running on a Windows XP Professional machine, and the application had “performed an illegal operation” and was shut down. The only viable option was to reboot the system in order to gain access to the safe room.

So reboot I did.



Soon enough, I was shown the desktop, accompanied by the well-known Windows jingle.



Sweet! Now just a simple task to start the security system again–



…oh, shit.



…oh, SHIT.

The security system was gone. Without it, zombies starting pouring into the theater. We were suddenly overwhelmed. I had to cut the power entirely:



I ran over and flipped the switch…and the switch fell off in my hand.


Yes, I was getting boomed as I was trying to read the text.


With the security system down and the power hopelessly stuck in the “on” position, I had to do things the old fashioned way: find an axe and chop the power cable to sever it and stem the tide of zombies bearing down on us.

But where was the axe? Why, across the projector room, of course! And wedged into the ground!



Finally, axe in hand, I returned to the server room and dealt swift death to the offending power cable.



This shut down the frozen security system, slowing the influx of zombies, and allowing us time to regroup and break into the safe room.



Once we broke down the projector screen, the safe room was waiting for us, and we gratefully entered.

Yeah, I also had a stormtrooper mod running. Pretty neat!

Yeah, I also had a stormtrooper mod running. Pretty neat!

This map gets major, major props for its design and execution. The settings were unique–train depots, police stations, football stadiums, elementary schools, even a church–and the layout showed an exquisite attention to detail and overall flow.

One fantastically creative panic moment was in one of the early chapters: we were able to contact a chopper pilot who instructed us to remain put until he arrived. We were situated near the top of a half-finished building, and we were easily able to spot the approaching chopper. As he approached, we could hear him start to moan over the comm, hinting that he might have been bitten not long ago. Suddenly, he screamed, and his chopper careened off course…into an adjacent building, which exploded into a spectacular fireball. So much for rescue.

Even with a record six chapters (the longest campaigns I’d played previously all topped out at 5 chapters, and often times the 5th was just a single panic moment that led up to the rescue), it was incredibly engaging. It took us almost 2 hours to play through the entire campaign, and I wasn’t once ever tired of it. Excellent, excellent work. I highly recommend this campaign.

Also, I found this poster in-game that I HAVE ON MY APARTMENT WALL RIGHT NOW:



About Shannon Quinn

Oh hai!
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